One Size Won't Fit All

October 1, 2007

Skin care products for people of color gain ground in a growing market.

One Size Won’t Fit All

Skin care products for people of color gain ground in a growing market.

LaToyah Burke
Associate Editor

A one-size fits all mentality is beginning to wane in the ethnicskin care market. While multinationals continue to tout
 Timeless Secret contains Pu-erh Tea.
their broad product ranges in an effort to be all things to all skin types, smaller players are rolling out products that provide real solutions for ethnic skin. Still, the big players keep trying.

Johnson and Johnson extended its flagship consumer brand Neutrogena with Visibly Even, which is formulated to smooth out discolorations and relieve blotchiness, which are ethnic skin problems. However, aside from using a few women of color in advertisement, ethnicity is absent from the labeling or website.

Risi-Leanne Baranja, editor-in-chief for Palacinka.com, a website for women of color, said marketers should make consumers aware of products that are good for ethnic skin by creating specifically targeted advertisements. She urged, “pay attention to the growing ethnic market.”

 Ambi targets spots.
On the other hand, another Johnson and Johnson brand, Ambi, is formulated for and positioned as skin care for ethnic women, be they of African, Latin or South Asian heritage. Ambi is developed specifically for women with rich skin tones to help achieve beautiful, healthy-looking skin.

Even private label products such as Dr. Jan Adams’ Women of Color Total Skin Care, introduced by Walgreen Co., are taking advantage of the opportunity.

A gradually expanding assortment of products and consumer savvy regarding ways to care for their skin has helped propel the ethnic sector of the market. Consumers are becoming smarter about the choices they make and they expect to see an ethnic-specific offering in terms of skin care, makeup and overall cosmetics.

Although skin care products account for the smallest number of retail sales in the ethnic hair, beauty and cosmetics category, Packaged Facts predicts retail sales will grow 5.8% to $238 million by 2012.

Natural SPF Is Not Enough

Although a natural SPF is beneficial, some ethnic consumers mistakenly assume that their darker skin is a guarantee against skin cancer. This myth can be the kiss of death—literally.

According to dermatologist and member of the Ambi Advisory Board, Jeanine Downie, “ethnic skin provides some built-in sun block against harmful rays, however its natural protection is not enough.” Therefore it is important to use products with SPF even for ethnic consumers with the darkest of skin tones.

Ambi Even & Clear Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 goes beyond nourishing skin to help even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of skin discolorations. It is enriched with EvenBlend, a combination of natural soy and vitamins C & E and contains advanced sun protection.

Avon takes a global approach to beauty. The company’s skin care offerings include solutions that can be used by women of many different ethnic backgrounds.

 Breej Bump Zapper advanced formula Skin Repair & Brightening Cream targets dark spots.
In the wake of ethnic consumers becoming aware of the benefits of SPF skin protection, Avon has incorporated sun-blocking ingredients into skin care products.

“As we develop our day products we continually look to create formulations with not only the benefits of daily moisturizer but the necessary UVA and UVB protection for daily wear,” said Anthony D Gonzalez, manager Avon Skin Care Global Research and Development.

“Dark skin is a blessing as it relates to sun damage and aging,” says Susan C. Taylor, M.D., director of the Skin of Color Center in New York and author of Brown Skin: Dr. Susan Taylor’s Prescription for Flawless Skin, Hair and Nails.

“A 50-year-old woman of color often looks 40, while a white woman of the same age might look 10 years older than her real age,” observed Dr. Taylor. However, “Skin of color can cause significant problems, as well.”

Spot Check

Brown and white skin is pretty similar under the surface. But the same melanin that offers darker skin some protection from the sun—and can keep people looking younger—can, on the other hand, leave disfiguring marks behind from even an ordinary bout of acne.

Unfortunately, darker skin sports brown patches that can create a blotchy complexion. Dryness, sensitivity and hyperpigmentation can all leave blemishes on ethnic skin.

Traumas such as blemishes or UV damage causes the skin to produce excess melanin and results in a dark mark that is darker than the natural skin tone.

 Barc's shave products are for men of color.
“In terms of ethnic skin, inflammation often leaves a dark spot,” according to Dr. Downie. “A mosquito bite, or pimple leaves a dark mark that can take anywhere between 6 months to a year to go away.”

Ms. Baranja of palacinka.com, agreed. “Skin damage, as minor as a scratch or a pimple, triggers excess melanin production and results in dark patches. Without prompt attention, the marks can last for months and even years before they fade,” she said.
According to Information Resources Inc., mass ethnic skin care product sales approached $39 million last year. The top spot went to Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula, followed by Queen Helene and Ambi Skincare.

Ambi is a line of skin care products that reduces breakouts, clears dark marks and keeps skin even, clear and radiant. Even & Clear Targeted Mark Minimizer is an effective treatment that helps reduce the appearance of dark marks in specific areas without altering the natural skin tone.

The minimizer uses a triple action formula that combines vitamin A (retinol), vitamin C and vitamin E to help even skin tone, lighten and soften the skin.

The combination allows each ingredient to work collaboratively to reduce the appearance of dark marks without altering the skin’s natural tone. When applied to problem areas daily, results can be seen in as little as two weeks.
Still, skin of color is anything but doomed to disfigurement. An ounce of prevention, by gentle treatment and consistent sunscreen use, can go far to keep ethnic skin healthy.

Men of Color

Ethnic skin care treatment for men, starts with shaving. For the most part, men of color experience the most trouble with razor bumps and other irritations associated with shaving. These concerns, although they deal with the skin are directly attributed to  hair texture.

“Part of the difference is in the curliness of ethnic hair, which has a much greater chance of growing up and into the skin which will then get trapped and create a bump,” explained Chris Hayes, chief executive officer of Barc, NY, NY. The texture of the hair and direction of its growth is what causes skin damage as that hair pierces the skin and continues to grow while the skin tries to heal itself, leaving the ingrown hair trapped underneath, he added.

Barc’s products alleviate this problem. By creating a line of skin care products that address the specific needs of men of color that prep the skin for shaving and care for the skin between shaves, Barc has revolutionized men’s skin routines, according to Mr. Hayes.

He insisted that consumers are looking for results that deliver the effective solutions they claim. “Customers looking for ethnic-targeted products should be looking for a brand that addresses their specific and unique needs with what’s in the product and not just what it claims to do,” he said. Consumers have learned that products chock full of empty promises were not worth their money or a repeat purchase. They are seeking results and reliability.

“Barc separates itself from the competition with a formulation containing no alcohol, fragrance or oils. We didn’t want our product to be one that could possible solve one skin condition while ignoring or even causing another,” added Mr. Hayes.

Although the use of the word metrosexual is waning, male consumers are just as concerned with their looks. Personal grooming is still important to men, with male consumers placing an emphasis on body care and maintenance. “Men don’t want to use products that require an extra step. Simple, multi-purpose products that are part of a basic regimen are key,” explained Karen Grant, senior industry analyst NPD. More specifically, men of color are looking to products that improve their skin’s overall texture and tone.

African American shaving product sales top $6 million according to IRI. Soft Sheen Carson is No. 1 in the category with its Magic Shave line of men’s products. Magic Shave shaving powder is a depilatory formulated especially for black men according to the company and helps fight razor bumps. It is available in four varieties, Blue regular, Gold Fragrant, Platinum Conditioning with aloe and vitamin E and Red extra strength.

There is also a Smooth Razorless Hair Removing Crème, which contains conditioning oils for a smooth finish that’s said to be perfect for bald styles. A razor-less beard remover, Cream Shave, rounds out the product offerings in regular strength, mild and smooth.
The Breej product line is uniquely formulated and positioned to deal with those issues that are unique to ethnic skin.
“Breej Bump Zapper is formulated for ethnic skin to resolve existing bumps and restore damaged skin to normal. Bump Zapper targets skin that has been darkened by trauma from shaving and shaving bumps,” explained Aloysius Anaebonam, Ph.D., founder & chief scientist, Breej Technologies, Inc., Lowell,  Mass.

The Severe Bumps Kit also resolves existing bumps as well prevents the development of new bumps and is formulated with astringents, natural extracts that have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and wound healing properties, according to Dr. Anaebonam.

The Breej Bump Zapper Skin Repair and Brightening Cream helps revitalize damaged, hyper–pigmented skin and is formulated with ceramides, essential fatty acids and natural extracts.

Ethnic skin has many different needs. For example, Asian and Hispanic skin tends to be oily. Dermatologists recommend  these consumers use products containing more detergent to remove surface oils.

Researchers note that there’s been a lack of brands targeted to Asians—and that’s a big mistake.

More Products for Asian Skin

According to NPD Group’s Ethnic Consumer Beauty Report: The Changing Face of Beauty, when it comes to Asian women, 9 out of 10 have reported use of skin care products—more than any other ethnic group.

Mother-daughter team May and Michelle Wong researched the benefits of the Pu-erh tealeaf. They found that Pu-erh tea, the main ingredient in all of the Timeless Secret products, increases in potency over time to detoxify, protect and restore healthy skin.
Timeless Secret contains Pu-erh 300+complex an ingredient more than 2,000 years old. Pu-erh tea is touted as China’s legendary fountain of youth. When combined with eight patented natural cosmeceuticals Pu-erh delivers a 60% increase in firmness as well as other benefits, according to the company.

Asian simplicity meets modern science in this simple  four-step system. Start with Unveil, the cleanser, toner and exfoliater all in one that pH balances the skin. It removes makeup and pollutants, prepares skin for treatment and can be used on dry or damp skin. The second step is moisture.

Whisper is a multi-active moisturizer clinically proven to improve elasticity and firmness, while reducing the signs of fine lines and wrinkles. It provides brightening effects as well.

Whisper Emulsion takes it a step further by providing optimum moisture benefits. It delivers intense hydration with patented ceramides and additional active ingredients especially for dry skin cell turnover and surface smoothness, according to the company.

The next step is protection. Save Face Sun Shield with SPF 30 counteracts the environment’s drying effects while offering broad-spectrum sun protection. It’s the last line of defense and acts as a barrier to harsh exposures. Wink Eye Booster is the final step in the Timeless Secret routine. This step has more to do with anti-aging. It is purported to counteract signs of aging in the delicate eye area. It firms and tightens and decreases the appearance of crow’s feet.

While oil might be more visible on darker skin, ethnic skin spans the whole spectrum of skin types—oily, normal, dry and combination—just like light skin. African American skin, which tends to be less oily, requires dry or sensitive skin formulas and a moisturizing cleanser.

Carol’s Daughter products are made with the ethnic consumer in mind. The line of products were born from the home kitchen and have grown to a multitude of offerings for the skin and hair.

“Our skin tends to be on the dry-side and therefore we need the proper balance of moisture in our products along with great skin nourishing ingredients such as shea butter and almond oil,” said Lisa Price, founder and managing partner of Carol’s Daughter.

Wash Away the Oil Gentle Face Wash is a daily cleanser for keeping skin clear and pores unclogged. To put a stop to the over-production of oil on the face, Lemongrass & Geranium Toner helps keep oil in check.

Ylang-Ylang & Patchouli Gentle Face wash is a gentle cleanser that may be used daily to keep skin clear and pores unclogged. It is formulated especially for dry to normal skin.

Carol’s Daughter also offers a myriad of moisturizers for the face and body. Face butter helps protect with essential oils, carrot seed to nourish and calendula to soothe. It is beneficial to the skin during harsh weather conditions and is an excellent guard against windburn, according to the company.

“Consumers look for performance in terms of ethnic-targeted products,” said Ms. Price. “They’re looking for brands to recognize and meet their needs.”

Carol’s Daughter Essential Serum for Oily Skin contains essential oils of lemongrass, lavender and geranium to help absorb excess oils secreted by sebaceous glands while jojoba oil adds a touch of moisture. Essential Serum Normal-to-Dry Skin is rich in antioxidants and vitamins and helps maintain skin’s natural glow.

Although the target market is African-American women, Carol’s Daughter is a multicultural brand. “We strive to deliver a quality product, made with love, inspired by nature that performs,” added Ms. Price.

True Colors

In makeup, as well as in skin care, no one product works for everyone. Although some brands are specifically targeted toward ethnic consumers, there are other brands that take an all-inclusive approach void of language that indicates ethnic specificity.

Black Radiance and Tropez are two brands of makeup that cater to the needs of African American and bicultural American consumers. Both lines reflect diversity, culture and complexion.

“Ethnic women need products to reduce the appearance of discoloration, reduce shine and even skin tone,” explained Claire Dennis brand manager for Black Radiance and Tropez.

Color Perfect Liquid Makeup is a foundation that leaves skin fresh, clean and looking soft and natural. Color Perfect Liquid Makeup is an oil-free, feather-light formula that glides on effortlessly and dries to a natural sheen. The formula lasts all day, staying fresh and true without turning red, ashy or shiny. The makeup is available in six shades: butterscotch, cashmere, rum spice, brownie, cocoa bean and mocha honey.

L’Oréal Paris takes a unilateral approach with its True Match Super Blendable Makeup. The company claims that True Match is the first makeup to precisely match skin’s texture and tone. Although it stays away from buzzwords like ethnic, or women of color, L’Oréal makes True Match an all-inclusive offering.

Subsequently, finding the right shade has been made easier by using a lightest to darkest system characterized by 24, warm, neutral and cool shades that claim to match all skin tones.

When it comes to color cosmetics, some women fly under the radar, choosing to go natural, often lacking the confidence to embrace real color. The absence of options for skin of color prompted L’Oréal Paris to offer a way to build a woman’s color confidence through education and simplification, with cosmetics that deliver on the color promise.

Many women want their makeup to be as bold and dramatic as their inner spirit, but haven’t had any real choices at mass that offer true color intensity. HIP High Intensity Pigments by L’Oréal Paris celebrates color and the women who wear it.  Using the latest technology and luxury standards, HIP High Intensity Pigments is a cosmetics line of products and shades that take any makeup look from blah to brilliant.

CoverGirl also knew that it was hard for women of color to find mass market foundations that match their skin tones. “In 2006 CoverGirl teamed up with Queen Latifah to create the CoverGirl Queen Collection. It fills a gap in the market by offering cosmetics specially designed with shades and ingredients for women of color,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, vice president, general manager of global cosmetics, North America, Procter & Gamble.

What’s Next?

Ethnic consumers look for products to help solve their specific skin problems. Marketers should take notice and create products that cater to them.

“We’re noticing more of an interest in starting skin care lines. There are a lot of me-too products out there. My patients waste money on products that have no merit,” added Dr. Downie.

“Marketers must meet the needs of ethnic consumers by acknowledging our buying power and speaking to us with respect,” said Ms. Price. “We spend a lot of money in this industry and are no longer settling for what’s available.”

“Companies and makers of skin products now realize the prevalence of ethnic focus and that all products do not work for all skin types,” said Ms. Baranja. They must develop formulas to increase the effectiveness of their products.

The perception of the ethnic-specific aisle is about to change. On the marketer level, a freedom is blossoming in formulations and packaging. For consumers, varying product assortments with premium-to-prestige extensions and altogether new brands bring forth new opportunities. Products that are made for and cater to ethnic consumers and are just as good as general market products will increase marketers’ success.